Restaurant

3 Obviously True Travel Facts That Are Wrong

Everything you know about travel is wrong . . . . . or, at least, it could be wrong. Anyone who travels often enough, and daringly enough, has surely already discovered this. Pre-travel, you might believe that herds of cows don’t roam cities, that money comes only in paper and metal form, that the health of one’s father is not connected to one’s choice of footwear. Then you travel to India and step into (and, occasionally, onto) its bovine urban environment, or go to Yap where purchases are made with large rock slabs, or visit Madagascar and discover fady. (Don’t know about fady? Read on).

This is one of the true joys of travel—to shatter expectations and expand the realm of what’s possible.

In many ways, the entire travel channel of Spot Cool Stuff is dedicated to the surprising aspects of travel. For some clear examples, look through our unusual hotel reviews.

In honor of the official Everything You Think You Know Is Wrong Day, March 15th, we bring you a special post about three travel destinations—one country, one city and one restaurant—where you’ll discover that what you were certain was right is, in fact, wrong.

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Experience Istanbul Like an Ottoman

The Ottoman Empire may conjure up images of elaborately mustached men decked out in fez hats while women recline seductively behind floaty veils in the sultan’s harem, but there is much more to this exotic empire than first meets the eye. At the height of its might, Ottoman territories expanded across the three continents of Europe, Asia and Africa. Istanbul, known then as Constantinople, was wrestled from the hands of the Byzantines in 1453 and remained the capital of the Empire until its end in 1923. Situated on three bodies of water with a literal treasure chest of historical gems, the Ottomans further capitalized on Istanbul’s breathtaking beauty to ensure it maintained its reputation as one of the world’s most beautiful cities.

Although Istanbul has modernized at a startlingly rapid pace, some of the most glorious remnants of its past are everywhere to be seen. From centuries-old wooden mansion hotels to ancient shopping malls, mosques, palaces, bathhouses and much, much more, it’s possible to spend some time in Istanbul shopping, eating, praying, relaxing and sleeping much like the Ottomans did!

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Bangkok’s Robot Restaurant

The day may come when machines overthrow the human race and our robot overlords force us mortals to serve at their will. Until then, we can suggest going for a meal at the Hajime Robot Restaurant in Bangkok, Thailand.

At the Hajime robots not only serve food to customers but also dance for them. (This makes the Hajime Robot Restaurant is the only establishment in Bangkok that has a tagline promising to “serve your every need” and that features dancing waiters and that’s also child-friendly).

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A Salad and a Straight Jacket, Please

Come prepared to eat your meal with syringes, scalpels and other surgical utensils

Most people do not associate hospitals with great food, fun or festivities. The owners of Hospitalis, an unusual restaurant in the Latvian capital of Riga, are hoping to change that.

At Hospitalis patrons eat amongst skeletons, hospital gurneys and video screens playing medical clips from various popular movies. The two story restaurant is decorated mostly in an E.R. operating room theme. But if the thought of undergoing surgery isn’t unpleasant enough for you request a table in the restaurant’s faux dental office. There you can enjoy your meal while sitting in a dentist’s chair. (Fortunately, the dental dining area does not include round sinks of swirling water for patrons to spit their food into).

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Pop-Tarts Store Pops Up in NYC

Facebook has inspired family reunions, renewed friendships, much Scrabble playing—and now a restaurant. Or, a restaurant of sorts.

Almost immediately after Kellogg launched a Facebook fan page dedicated to Pop-Tarts—those thin, frosting-topped, super-sweet, preservative-filled, pasty-like concoctions sold in grocery stores since 1964—company executives became amazed at Pop-Tart Facebook popularity (currently two million fans and counting). So, they decided to open a store dedicated to said pastry-like concoctions.

And where else in the world has enough dignity and class to accommodate the Pop-Tarts brand? New York’s Time Square, of course.

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The Return of the Soup Nazi

No soup for you! At least there wasn’t for the last six years at 259A West 55th Street in Manhattan. That was once the location of Soup Nazi restaurant of Seinfeld fame. And, as of yesterday, it is again.

Even the most casual of Seinfeld fans probably know of the Soup Nazi, the surly proprietor of a delicious soup takeout joint featured in an episode in the sitcom’s seventh season. Said surly proprietor was based on a real character, Al Yeganeh, who was not at all fond of Seinfeld’s “Soup Nazi” nickname. (Although prior to the Seinfeld Soup Nazi episode Yaganeh’s regulars referred to him as “The Terrorist,” which doesn’t strike us as any better a moniker.)

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The NYC Bar Where Prices Fluctuate Like Stocks

As politicians and international monetary officials work on reforms of financial institutions there’s a key commodities market they are failing to address—beer.

Case in point: The Exchange Bar & Grill, in the Gramercy Park neighborhood of New York City. At the Exchange Bar the price of beer constantly fluctuates depending on market forces within the bar.

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The Restaurant (and Cooking School) Above Paris

Location, location, location is the repetitive mantra of many a real estate agents. And the Palais de Tokyo has one of the best in Paris. Not only does is this museum of contemporary art located in the heart of the city, its rooftop boasts some of the best views from anywhere in the French capital.

Until May 2009 the roof of the Palais de Tokyo was the home to the Hotel Everland. Spot Cool Stuff regulars might remember our review of the Everland, the improbable, portable, pod-like hotel that was as well traveled as some of its guests.

When the Hotel Everland moved away from its museum perch it seemed only a matter of time until another tenant moved in. That time has come. Today a hip and cool restaurant—the Art Home—sits atop the Palais de Tokyo.

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